The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here is what The Ear would like to see used on Memorial Day to honor veterans and the fallen

May 31, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today is actually Memorial Day, even though many celebrations took place yesterday, including the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall (below).

Well, to honor the occasion I posted a survey asking you for suggestions of classical  music that is appropriate for Memorial Day to honor veterans and fallen soldiers. Here are some from David Susan of Madison, who writes:

“Four pieces come to mind for Memorial Day (though of course I have no idea what they may say to others!): 1. Borodin, “In the Steppes of Central Asia” 2. Ives, “Variations on America” (Organ) 3. Vaughan Williams, “English Folk Song Suite” 4. (If “classical-style movie music” counts) then music by Hans Zimmer from the 90’s movie “Backdraft” could work–the main theme “Fighting 17th,” or a later cut called “Show Me Your Firetruck,” which combines the martial and poignant themes.

Here, as promised is, mine.

I’ll confess: I have not fought in a war. But no account of war I have heard or read suggests it is a quiet event.

So that is all the more reason why some quietude suggests rest and forgiveness, peace  — both individual and social — and an end to hostilities of all kinds. It is gentle and kind, but it stands and endures and moves people.

And so I offer this excerpt from the Faure Requiem — the “Pie Jesu” sung by the late Lucia Popp.

For me, the Faure Requiem, is like the Brahms “German” Requiem or the Mozart Requiem or the Verdi Requiem or Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” and so many other great sacred pieces of music: You don’t have to be religious, let alone, say, Catholic, to feel the emotion and feeling behind this. I can’t believe anyone of faith or without faith would be insulted to hear this work played in honor of them or someone close to them.

And I can imagine the National Symphony Orchestra with a great American soprano — say, Renee Fleming or Kathleen Battle — performing this piece and absolutely bringing the huge crowd on the West Lawn of the Capital in Washington, D.C., to quiet and contemplation.

I hope you also think it is a good choice.

Whether you agree or not, let me know.

The Ear wants to hear.

Now here it is:


Posted in Classical music

Classical music poll: What piece of classical music best celebrates Memorial Day and honors veterans?

May 30, 2010
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today — Sunday, May 30 — at 7 p.m. tonight (with a repeat at 8:30 p.m.) on Wisconsin Public Television (WHA-TV Channel 21 or HD-TV Channel 600) this year’s ever-popular National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn (below) of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., will be televised live.

Here’s an official description taken from a press release, although no program of music selections is listed:

“The 2010 event commemorates 21 years on air as the nation’s memorial service, offering viewers a time to remember, heal and bring our country together. The FREE concert will feature a mix of dramatic readings, documentary footage and live musical performances, along with an all-star line-up of dignitaries, actors and musical artists.”

The guests include Colin Powell and Joe Mantegna.

You can be sure the program will feature of a lot of patriotic and nostalgic music — Sousa marches, for one — performed by the National Symphony Orchestra (below top) under pops conductor Jack Everly (below bottom), who is succeeding Erich Kunzel, who died last year.


But classical music is sometimes programmed — and can be very appropriate.

Last year’s program, for example, included an abbreviated version of Tchaikovsky’s popular piano Concerto No.1  in B-flat minor with pianist Lang Lang and with black-and-white video clips of GIs.

Here’s a link to an audio/video clip of the performance:

What other classical music would fit in this format?

Haydn’s “Drumroll” Symphony?

Schubert’s “Military Marches” come to mind, but seem a bit light on the nostalgia front.

Samuel Barber’s poignant “Adagio for Strings” is a good work that was also used in the Vietnam War film “Platoon.”

Sir Edward Elgar’s :”Enigma” Variations has a deeply moving “Nimrod” section that Ken Burns used, mostly in a piano arrangement, in his documentary about World War II.

And the finale of Beethoven’s legendary Ninth Symphony would use the chorus and soloists and orchestra in
that popular plea for peace and universal brotherhood. It was good enough for Leonard Bernstein to use it to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall.

And of course Beethoven’s dramatic “Egmont” Overture celebrates freedom.

What about American composer Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”?

Of course, there is a difference between music for a personal recollection and remembrance, and music that is suitable for a crowd and its collective recollection and remembrance.

So I ask you, readers and especially veterans: What piece or pieces of classical music would you like to hear to honor veterans and current members of the armed forces and their families?

It’s too late, of course, to affect this year’s program.

But maybe future programmers will take notice.

Anyway, The Ear wants to hear.

And I will post my own choice as well as yours tomorrow on Memorial Day.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music news: Attention singers — Madison Summer Choir rehearsals for Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” begin Tuesday and Wednesday

May 29, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you’re a singer – especially a choral singer who has sung in the UW Choral Union or the Madison Symphony Orchestra or some other community choir — you might want to know that a major community chorus event will start this Tuesday and Wednesday.


Ben Luedcke returns for the second year to direct the Madison Summer Choir, a registered student organization.

The choir will rehearse for six weeks on Monday and Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. in Room 1351 of the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. park St., on the UW campus, beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, June 1. (The other rehearsal that week is on Wednesday, June 2, due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 31).

There will be an evening dress rehearsal on Thursday, July 8 at a time to be announced.

The culminating concert – FREE, UNTICKETED and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – will be on Friday, July 9, at 7:30 p.m in Mills Hall and will feature selections on a theme of light, including “Lux Aeterna” by Morten Lauridsen (below), to be performed with a small orchestra, and several a cappella selections.


No auditions are required for singers who have been in an auditioned choir at the School of Music or in the community; others should contact Ben Luedcke at baluedcke@wisc.edu.

It should be some beautiful music making.

Here is a sample of the opening organ and choral movement of Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” (you might have to turn up the volume, as I did):


Posted in Classical music

Classical music book review: New biography of great (and gay) pianist Sviatoslav Richter is definitive for the foreseeable future

May 28, 2010
10 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

As I am writing this, I am listening to one of the hundreds of recordings – both official and bootleg, both studio and live — made by the legendary pianist Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter (below): “Richter Rediscovered: The Carnegie Hall Recital of Dec. 26, 1966.”

Of course, you don’t ever need an excuse to listen to Richter (1915-1997). All you need is the desire to hear beautiful music piano music – solo, chamber and concerto — played in an arresting and original manner, an approach that takes risks that usually pay off but sometimes fail.

But this time I have an excellent excuse or, better, reason.

It is the new biography — “Sviatoslav Richter: Pianist” — by the Danish composer Karl Aage Rasmussen (Northeastern University Press, University Presses of New England, $40).


There is much to single out for praise in this new biography — too much in fact for one relatively short review.

But let’s start with some of the major points.

Richter’s fans probably know the video “Richter: The Enigma” by Bruno Monsaingeon, who also did videos of Glenn Gould. They may also know his book made of Richter’s own notebooks and transcriptions of conversations.

This book picks up from all that and uses more obscure sources to push the limits of what we know about this enigmatic and curiously charismatic pianist.

Start with the fact that, to my knowledge at least, this is the first biography that fully and openly discusses Richter being gay. Reading it, you find out about his 50-plus year alliance with a woman (singer Nina Dorliak) and about his male “escorts”; you find about his self-acceptance in a land where the government outlawed and punished homosexual behavior that was not discrete or invisible.

That alone makes this biography a fascinating addition, and a timely one.

Rasmussen also takes care to offer historical and political contexts, so one understands Richter’s avoidance of politics as well as his friendships and working relationship with the composers Prokofiev and Shostakovich and his relations with other dissident musicians such as Rostropovich. (He was hostile to fellow virtuoso Emil Gilels.)

One quickly understands Richter’s reluctance to take on the Soviet authorities or to remain close to his mother after his own father was tried and executed on a trumped-up charge of treason – and was perhaps betrayed by his own stepfather.

Thanks to careful research and a lot of interviews, Rasmussen debunks a lot of the myths and legends surrounding Richter, especially in his young years and his last years, when heart ills were closing in on his life.

Oh, to be sure, Rasmussen gets repetitive at times: one keeps hearing about Richter’s apolitical view of life, his fear of flying, his insistence that he was following the text and the composer’s intentions, even when he clearly wasn’t. And sometimes he is given to overwriting and hyperbole, especially when describing Richter’s distinctive playing.

But those are small flaws, quibbles really, in an otherwise well researched and well written biography that reveals the quirky psychology and aesthetic judgments that made Richter a phenomenon. It offers many telling anecdotes about small incidents, including how Richter got to play at Stalin’s funeral, and amusing details, including how Richter liked to celebrate with food and drink beyond his reputation as an ascetic.

It features a fairly thorough discography with comments, and an extensive index that allows the reader too to easily look up individual composers and works.

Rasmussen also seems to have a good sense of Richter’s many gifts, including his ability stretch time in Schubert especially, but also of his flaws as a much celebrated human being who paradoxically, like Moliere and Shakespeare, used the spotlight to keep his personal private life in the shadows.


The book is expensive, but it is well worth the money if you are a piano fan – or Richter fanatic. I found the 303 pages went by quickly and engagingly.

If you read it, let me know what you think of it. So far, I can’t find many reviews on the Internet and would love to know what others think.

The book deserves more attention than it might get simply because it is not published by a major commercial publisher. After all, it demystifies one of the most mysterious figures of modern music-makers, right down to his practice methods.

So here it is from The Ear to your ear: I highly recommend this new Richter biography and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Let me know what you think of the biography?

And what you think of Richter?

Do you have a favorite recording by him?

The Era wants to hear.

And in the meantime, until he does, what about an outstanding sample of Richter’s playing?

Here is Richter as his peak performing a difficult and virtuosic Chopin etude (Op. 10, No. 4 in C-sharp minor, marked Presto by the composer) that demonstrates his power, agility and clarity — even though he was almost exclusively self-taught:

And you can find a lot more at YouTube, although some videos of Richter playing have been deleted for copyright reasons.

For a short capsule biography and more photos, use this link:

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Pic-Bio-BIG/Richter-Sviatoslav-15.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Richter-Sviatoslav.htm&usg=___Kw86BTfbYNYvTX5C9x31y9yeTw=&h=300&w=300&sz=49&hl=en&start=8&itbs=1&tbnid=3bNfskfygyhH2M:&tbnh=116&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3DSviatoslav%2BRichter%26hl%3Den%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1


Posted in Classical music

Classical music news: Robert Schumann Fest at UW-Madison in the fall is cancelled

May 27, 2010
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has heard some bad news, some sad news, to pass along.

There will be no University of Wisconsin-Madison festival to celebrate the 200th birthday, which is June 8, of arch-Romantic composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856, seen below in a photo from about 1850).


Word was that the UW School of Music would in the fall hold an event similar to the Chopin festival it held in March to mark the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.

Those Chopin events included a faculty recital by Christopher Taylor; master classes for high school students; an amateur pianist community play-in; and a performance the complete mazurkas (below) played by UW undergraduate and graduate piano students. It all took place in one day in Old Music Hall.

Well, apparently so much effort and planning went into it that a repeat is just not possible or feasible for the fall.

It seems one central figure will be on sabbatical and the rest of the faculty will be too busy teaching and performing to pull such an event together. Perhaps finances also figure into it.

That’s too bad.

You could argue – and argue easily– that Schumann is a far more important composer from the historical and musicological points of view than Chopin.

Moreover, there is so much music by Schumann that one just doesn’t get to hear performed live — or even on recordings or the radio.

That leaves one hoping that at least the big birthday will be marked informally through students and faculty recitals and performances, through other performances by other groups.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra (below), for example, is doing Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Christopher Taylor and the Symphony No. 3  “Rhenish” — though the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra doesn’t seem like it will include works by Schumann in its indoors Masterworks concert next season.)


In addition, during its three weekends of concerts  in June, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society (below) will perform  more than its fair share of Schumann, including: the Violin Sonatas in D minor and A Minor, Opp. 121 and 105, respectively; the Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 63; and the glorious Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44.

For details about time, place, tickets and programs for the BDDS, visit:

http://www.bachdancinganddynamite.org/

Maybe the Pro Arte String Quartet will throw in one of the three string quartets, or, with a soloist, the beautiful Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major.

Maybe one of the UW student orchestral groups will do another symphony, or at least some overture.

And maybe some of the voice faculty will do more (soprano Mimmi Fulmer has already performed the “Frauenliebe und leben” cycle. What about “Dichterliebe” or “Liederkreis”?)

Maybe another piano trio? The cello concerto or some cello and piano works?

And of course Schumann wrote so many wonderful solo piano works.

What Schumann works would you most like to hear during the Schumann Year?

What works are least heard and should be perform in the anniversary year?

Is there any push to have an informal Schumann Fest organized by the community, maybe some play-in at a non-UW venue like the First Unitarian Society, Edgewood College or the Capitol Lakes Retirement Center?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music datebook: Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Philharmonia kicks off Olbrich Gardens’ free summer concert series, but WYSO loses director Marie Ruetten

May 26, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

This week’s Best Bet is the occasion for some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news and the Best Bet: On Tuesday, June 1, at 7 p.m., Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras’ Philharmonia Orchestra (below) will perform at Olbrich Gardens, on Madison’s east side, for free – with a $1 donation suggested.


Tom Buchhauser will conduct the program, which includes Schubert “Rosamunde” Overture, Gianini Symphony No. 2, Grainger’s “Mock Morris”; Johann Strauss “Thundering Lightening” Polka and Copland “Variations on a Shaker Melody” and “Chronicles of Narnia.”

“It’s nice summer fare,” says WYSO director Marie Ruetten. “The students love to play it and the public likes to hear it.”

The concert kicks off the Summer Series of musical concerts at Olbrich.

Olbrich’s Summer Concert Series runs on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. from June 1 through July 27

The concerts take place on the Great Lawn (below) of Olbrich’s outdoor gardens. A wide variety of music is highlighted, including jazz, folk, honky-tonk, and much more.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket, pack a picnic, or purchase hotdogs and brats at the Gardens from the Madison East Kiwanis. Picnics are allowed in the Gardens for Tuesday concerts only.

In case of rain, concerts will be held indoors, and the Kiwanis brat and hotdog stand will not be available. A $1 donation is suggested. Concerts are sponsored by the Olbrich Botanical Society.

Here is a link for more information:

http://www.olbrich.org/events/summerconcert.cfm

Now, the sad news: WYSO director Marie Ruetten (below) is leaving her post.


Ruetten, who has been with WYSO, for the past five years, is finishing up her duties this week before taking a new job Vice-President of Finance and Administration with the international Crane Foundation in Baraboo.

It seems a logical step, given her past career. A native of northern Michigan, Ruetten obtained master’s degrees in music education and music performance (conducting) from Michigan State University.

She spent 14 years teaching band at educational levels from elementary school to undergraduate students. She spent the last six of these years as Director of Bands at Muskego High School and the last five as Music Coordinator for the Muskego-Norway School District (in addition to teaching), and at the same time, earned a Master of Business Administration.

Before coming to WYSO, Marie managed an educational publication line for Hal Leonard Corporation, a major publisher of print music. She is an active bassoonist and guest conductor.

But now Ruetten is leaving music.

“It’s a loss,” admits Rosalind Zerofsky, a member of WYSO’s board of directors.

A national search to replace Ruetten has been under way, she added, noting, “there have been quite a few applicants.” WYSO hopes to name new director in June.

Zerofsky also says that WYSO has finished up the year is good shape.

“We’re in good shape,” she said, after Ruetten’s tenure.

Although this year’s Art of Note fundraising campaign – with old violins and other instruments transformed into works of art — came in a bit lower than its $35,000 goal, overall fundraising has been up from last year. and she described the attendance at last weekend’s series of spring concerts as “fantastic.”

That good. WYSO – which operates on a budget of about $600,000 a year – deserves it.

Nationally, it ranks in the top five or 10 public education classical music educational programs for young people, according to Ruetten, and ison par with New York and Los Angeles.


“We feel fortunate to be in a community that understands the importance of music education,” Ruetten said. “By the end of the fiscal year, we will be in the black – not by a lot, but in the black. We are functioning as non-profits are supposed to because of the generosity of a lot of people.”

“I feel very fortunate to have served a little more than five years,” Ruetten adds. “It’s a fabulous organization, and it is the people who make it what it is whether it’s the students and their families, the staff, the board, the volunteers or the supports. WYSO is doing great work and making a difference in our community. I feel grateful to all of them and fortunate to have been a part of it.”

The statistics back her up. More than 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin have participated in WYSO during its 42 years of providing musical opportunities.

Want to know more or work with the organization? Here is a link to WYSO:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/

Students, parents, listeners or co-workers: Do you have a message you want to leave for Ruetten?

A comment about WYSO in general?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music review: House Music concerts revive the conviviality and fun of making music in the past

May 25, 2010
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

On Sunday afternoon, I attended a concert that seems unusual by today’s standards because it took place in a private home—not in a concert hall or some other commercial venue.

Yet that unusual place was a reminder that most music concerts took place at one time in private homes. The tradition was called, in German, Hausmusik or “house music.”

And long before there was television to watch or movies to go to in order to pass an evening, musicians used these private residences – often those of aristocrats or rich patrons – as a place to perform their music. They were a reminder of salons and courts.

And as the middle class rose to prominence in Europe, families made music as a primary source of entertainment and bonding.

Imagine that: Once upon a time, classical music was fun, not just a duty, and was popular, not elitist. It was for the people. not the professionals.

In its current reincarnation in Madison, house music is the brainchild of keyboard artist/builder and early music expert Trevor Stephenson, who also directs the Madison Bach Musicians. He opened up his own renovated home to a concert that he says will become a tradition.

He says he hopes to present up to seven or eight similar concerts each year.

The next one is on Friday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m. and will feature trio sonatas with baroque violin, baroque cello and harpsichord in music by Haydn, Corelli, Handel and Leclair.

The venue, at Stephenson’s home on Madison’s west aside, seems a perfect setting. The extensively remodeled home has a “music room” that is flooded with natural light from plentiful skylights and windows, highlighted by light wood floor and trim and by light walls (below).

The chairs are simple ones, and one can’t help but remark on the mix of high technology (electronic recording equipment) and old or low technology – such as harpsichord, fortepianos and 19th century pianos with mostly wooden guts.

Then at intermission, you get tasty treats – punch, champagne and bubbly water as well as sweets and fruit, sausage and cheese — along with conversation and socializing.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also to hear the charming and witty, articulate and accessible Stephenson – the local Leonard Bernstein of early music, if you will — explain some aspect of the music and the instrument. (Below he is seen explaining the action of a key on a fortepiano.)

The music room sits up to about 40, with a small balcony, which the performers do not  ignore. It is intimate and convivial, sparking conversations and friendships.

As for the music, it was great music greatly performed. One felt close to it, as one should when it is a chamber music, not a symphony or choral event. And such intimacy even leads to a suspension of critical judgment, which gives way to sheer enjoyment, appreciation and involvement. That is a wonderful feelings – no doubt the original intent of live music by composers who wrote their music for what Virginia Woolf might call “the common listener” and not for critics.

So one got to hear Madison piano teacher Tim Mueller perform duets by Mozart (Variations in G Major, below) and Schubert (“Hungarian Divertissement,” a work admired and played by Chopin) with Stephenson.

You also heard soprano Amy Conn, who teaches in Evanston, Ill., sing several rarely heard English songs by Haydn (including one that prefigures the humorous patter songs of Gilbert and Sullivan) and five songs by Schubert, including “Di bist die Ruh” and “Auf dem Wasser zu singen.” You couldn’t help but feel close to the singer and close to the song.

It was exemplary music-making that took place on a shared and human level. And that added to the event. It didn’t take a big leap of imagination to time-travel back to one of those gathering of friends (Schubertiads) where Schubert played and premiered so many of his works.

The concerts – gatherings, really — event are $30. That’s a terrific deal given the quality of the music, the entertaining and illuminating commentary, and the refreshments. It’s a wonderful experience.

Stephenson’s house music series deserves a strong success, because it adds so much to the Madison music scene, which is so rich you doubted anything new could be added.

Reservations are required.

For more information, go to www.trevorstephenson.com or call 608 238-6092.

You can be sure you will see The Ear there again.

Will he see you?

If you attended the concert, what was your impression?

What part did you like best?

What could be done differently or better?

Will you go again?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music news: New University Opera season will offer popular Puccini (with the aria “O mio babbino caro”) and Menotti works

May 24, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

Here is something to look forward to over the summer: the University Opera will perform three operas next year.

In the fall will be two one-act operas from the trilogy by Puccini: the sentimental tragedy “Suor Angelica” (less popular) and the comedic “Gianni Schicchi” (the more popular opera that has the wonderful and heart-breaking aria “O mio babbino caro” that has become a standard repertoire piece that is known world-wide).

Then in the spring, the student company will perform Gian Carlo Menotti’s rarely staged “The Consul,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

The opera company, led by William Farlow (below) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 11 years, has earned a loyal following in Madison, a devoted following that often leads to three sold-out performances of each production.

Don’t take my word for it.

Here is a review, in case you missed it, of the company spring production of Donizetti’s bel canto opera “Maria Stuarda” (below) that appeared in Isthmus:

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=28975

Want to whet your appetite?

Here is Dame Kiri te Kanawa singing “O mio babino caro”:

If you go to YouTube, you can also hear other versions, including one by the legendary Maria Callas, although her singing in this aria strikes me as shrill and hard/

Here is an aria from Menotti’s “The Consul” with the legendary Renata Scotto:

And here is the Lullaby from “The Consul”:

If you want more information about University Opera, here is a link to its homepage at the UW Madison School of Music:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/opera

Unfortunately, no dates are listed yet. As soon as they are, I will let you know.

What do you think of these specific operas in themselves and as choices of University Opera’s 2011-12 season?

And what do you think of the University Opera productions in general?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music preview: What’s new at Carnegie Hall? Here’s the line-up for the next season, 2010-11

May 23, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

For me and many classical music fans, perhaps even most, around the world,  the Mecca of the classical music world is Carnegie Hall in New York City.


Sure, all major cities and world capitals have important concert halls and music series.

But Carnegie Hall remains the gold standard.

The stage at Carnegie Hall (below) is where young musicians make their careers and older ones solidify their reputations.

So no matter where you live, you want to know who is playing at Carnegie Hall and when are they playing and what are they playing and how well do they play it?

You also want to know what is new or innovative?

And what is familiar.

So here is a link to a wrap-up of the new season, the 2010-11 season, at Carnegie Hall:

http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/8398.html

If you go there, you’ll also see at the end of the story a direct link to the Carnegie Hall page itself. It has more details as well as pictures and of course musical excerpts.

So read it and dream — of a trip to New York City and seat at Carnegie Hall.

What do you think of the new season?

Which performer or performance most tempts you to go?

And tell me if it this post is useful or enjoyable to you.

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Classical music notebook: Are more young people playing and listening to classical music? They do in Madison and Los Angeles, thanks to WYSO and Gustavo Dudamel’s work with YOLA

May 22, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

This has been a week of talking about classical music education, about students and recitals, so why not top it off with a similar subject.

For that reason, The Ear wants to remind you:

This Sunday, May 23, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras hold their spring concerts, also a season closer with more than 300 talented young musicians performing in Mills Hall on the UW-Madison campus, 455 North Park Street.


At 1:30 p.m., WYSO’s Harp Ensemble will start the concert, followed by string orchestra, Sinfonietta, performing popular favorites such as selections from “Les Miserables” and Scott Joplin’s “Bethena.” Concert Orchestra will also feature a program of audience favorites, including Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” Overture and Bizet’s Prelude to “Carmen.”

At 4 p.m., WYSO’s premiere performing group, Youth Orchestra, will place the spotlight on three talented young men who won the 2010 Concerto Competition. Accompanied by the Youth Orchestra, Ansel Norris, 17, will play Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto. Tony Oliva, 18, will play Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3. Greg Riss, 17, will play Keiko Abe’s Marimba Concerto “Prism Rhapsody.”

The Philharmonia Orchestra will play the final concert of the day at 7 p.m. and will also feature the talents of a Concerto Competition winner. Christopher Eom, 15, will perform the third movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, accompanied by his fellow orchestra members. Conductor Tom Buchhauser will also lead the orchestra in performances of Grainger’s “Mock Morris” and Schubert’s “Rosamunde” Overture.

WYSO concerts are generally about an hour to an hour and a half in length, providing a great orchestral concert opportunity for families.

Tickets are available at the door, $8 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.

WYSO was founded in 1966 and has served nearly 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin.

For more information, visit WYSO’s website:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu/

And let’s hear some applause for the parents who support the young musicians and for the funders who sponsor young people learning classical music:

These concerts are supported by the Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation and the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times. This project is also funded in part by additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the State of Wisconsin, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

And here’s something else worth noting: What is happening in southcentral Wisconsin and the greater Madison area with WYSO – and with young people’s programs, including concerts and competitions, of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Wisconsin Public Radio — is taking place elsewhere around the country.

So the future of classical music among young people is, to me  least, looking a lot rosier, despite what a lot of doomsayers predict.

Want proof? In case you missed it, here is a link to the segment on last week’s “60 Minutes” where Gustavo Dudamel — the charismatic young Venezuela-born new maestro of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is now on tour in the US — talks about his work with YOLA, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (see both, in the photo below).


He talks about classical music’s ability to literally change lives — including his own — and he sounds thoroughly convincing. He also puts what he says into action.

Take a look  at the videos (you’ll find a lot of other videos of rehearsals and conversation) and listen to Gustavo Dudamel and tell me what you think:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/16/60minutes/main6483731.shtml

And let us know what programs for teaching classical music to young people are happening in your area?

The Ear wants to hear — and hopes the news is good.


Posted in Classical music
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